GLADWYNE, Pa.-Dave McNabb, the head professional at Applebrook Golf Club, knows what it takes to play – and to play well – at the highest level of golf.
“I think that’s what made me as good as a player I am today, the competition in the Philly area. I don’t take any of these guys for granted, whether they’re an amateur or professional,” said McNabb, 51, of Newark, Del.
Posting rounds of 73 and 71, the accomplished pro finished tied for ninth in the 113th #GAPOpen Championship at Philadelphia Country Club (par 71, 6,902 yards). He played alongside amateurs P.J. Acierno of Lu Lu Country Club and Little Mill Country Club’s Troy Vannucci on Day 2, only solidifying his belief in how deep the region’s talent pool is.
“The guys that made it [to Day 2] are here for a reason. They are great players, they qualified, and of course they shot great scores to make the cut to play in the same group I’m playing in,” said McNabb, who won the 2016 Haverford Trust Philadelphia PGA Classic and cashed the $100,000 grand prize – the largest purse of any one-day local PGA tournament in the nation. “I think it’s a testament – the way I play and the level that I play at – to the competition that is in this area more so than anything else.
This week’s championship wasn’t the only Open leaderboard McNabb’s name has surfaced on lately. He competed in the U.S. Senior Open at Salem Country Club (Peabody, Mass.) June 29-July 2, missing the cut by four strokes. That appearance came immediately after what may have been his biggest spotlight yet, at least from an exposure standpoint.
McNabb surged back on the final day in the PGA Professional Championship (June 18-21) to force a playoff against Omar Uresti at Sunriver Resort (Sunriver, Ore.). The two-hole playoff was broadcasted live on the Golf Channel and quickly became the talk of the town.
“I figured when I got close to the top of the leaderboard I’d get some TV coverage, and that’s one of the nice things about that national championship – our members are able to follow me out there. I’ve been fortunate to be in that situation before, and I’ve had some cameras on me, so once you have it happen to you a few times, you start to enjoy it,” said McNabb.
The coverage sent social media, and his phone, ablaze with local fanhood.
“It was really appreciated, all the support. One of the coolest things was when I got home, I had the [telecast] recorded, and I saw members sending in tweets in support of me,” he said. “The Twitter stuff was awesome, and I had over a hundred text messages waiting for me. That’s really the best thing – people being into what you’re doing.”
After sinking a tough seven-foot par look on the first playoff hole to match Uresti, McNabb ultimately fell on the second after failing to get up-and-down from a greenside bunker and carded a bogey to his opponent’s par.
McNabb is now set to play in his third PGA Championship. This year’s championship proper will take place Aug. 7-13 at Quail Hollow Club in Charlotte, N.C. His previous appearances came in 2013 at Oak Hill Country Club (Rochester, N.Y.) and again in 2014 at Valhalla Golf Club (Louisville, Ky.)
He says playing in this week’s #GAPOpen was a big part of his preparation process.
“This tournament holds a ton of prestige. It’s one that I gear up for every year and it’s a big part of my preparation for Quail Hollow,” said McNabb. “I’ve got about two weeks before I head out there, and I’ll get down there on Sunday, which leaves me with plenty of time to get ready. I’ll chip and putt when the schedule at [Applebrook] allows, but I’ll really just devote the week of the championship to get ready for my first round on Thursday.”
Rest assured all Philly golf fans – and the GAP – will be rooting you on once again, Dave.
Saint Joseph’s Pilliod takes the next step
What a difference a year can make.
In stroke-play qualifying round in the 2016 BMW Philadelphia Amateur Championship at Philadelphia Country Club, soon-to-be Saint Joseph’s University junior Ross Pilliod carded a round of 80.
After firing a round of 71 on the first day of the #GAPOpen, Pilliod found himself in the third-to-last pairing, eight shots behind eventual champion Matt Mattare, whose 63 was a Philadelphia Country Club course record.
Pilliod’s game has continued to improve as the years go by. Just last season, Pilliod posted the Hawks’ second best scoring average at 75.1.
“My game has definitely been improving throughout the years and my dad Chris always says the road to success is never a straight line,” Pilliod, 20, of Reading, Pa., said. “I feel good about where my game is headed. I am happy to see my scores reduced each year and it has taken a lot of hard work to be here.”
Pilliod, as a senior at Berks Catholic High School in 2014, posted Top 10 finishes in his County, District, Regional and State Golf Championships and started to receive attention in the recruiting process from college coaches. His hard work and strong play garnered the attention of Hawks’ head coach Bob Lynch.
“My scores my senior year at Berks Catholic were good and I began to get recruited late,” Pilliod said. “Coach Lynch was nice enough and offered me a tryout and I figured why not. I didn’t get a lot of playing time to start after I made the team but then secured a spot in the spring of my freshman year.”
Off of the golf course, Pilliod has spent the last two years as a caddie at Stonewall in Elverson, Pa. where he gets to play the North Course on Mondays.
He will be competing July 24 at Stonewall in the U.S. Amateur Qualifier with the hopes of securing a spot at Riviera and Bel-Air Country Clubs in mid-August.
For now, Pilliod has his sights sets on getting some victories under his belt. From there he likes where the road is heading, as long as he can remember the proper procedures to enter those events.
“I want to win some tournaments in the GAP and compete consistently. I came into this week liking my chances but my game didn’t come with. I also need to start meeting registration deadlines. Pilliod said laughing. “I missed the deadline for the Philadelphia Amateur and the Pennsylvania Open. I need to keep my eye out for that.”
Fifth #GAPOpen visit to Philly Country a success
For the fifth time, Philadelphia Country Club, one of the Golf Association of Philadelphia’s founding members, hosted the #GAPOpen.
It was also the first club to host the Open with the new format change to a two-day stroke play event with 18 holes played each day.
The club’s Golf Chairman, P. Chet Walsh, made the cut after opening with a round of 74 and was pleased that the GAP decided to return to his home club.
“I think it is great that the Golf Association of Philadelphia recognized us as one of the top clubs in the area to host an event of this caliber,” Walsh said. “We hopped on the ship in 2004 when we hosted our last #GAPOpen. It was great to be the first club to host the tournament since the format changed. I think it is the respect and regard they hold the course for.”
Walsh, 52, of Wayne Pa., said the course definitely firmed up on the greens from Day 1 to Day 2 but couldn’t have been more pleased with how Philly Country held up under the pressure of holding a Major Championship.
“I think the club did tremendously well in how it presented itself,” Walsh said. “The staff is in the midst of a four-week stretch of no days off because of outings and tournaments. The staff has been working long hours in the heat and they have done an outstanding job in representing the club in these situations.”
Golf Association of Philadelphia
Founded in 1897, the Golf Association of Philadelphia (GAP) is the oldest regional golf association in the United States and serves as the principal ruling body of amateur golf in its region. Its 151 Member Clubs and 57,000 individual members are spread across parts of Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware and Maryland. As Philadelphia’s Most Trusted Source of Golf Information, the Golf Association of Philadelphia’s mission is to promote, preserve and protect the game of golf.